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Nutrition

Six snacks to help keep you focused

Boost productivity with these healthy snacks, recommended by Benenden Hospital nutritionist Abir Hamza-Goodacre...

It’s tempting to reach for a quick snack when hunger’s distracting you from work. So, we’ve selected a mix of easily prepared snacks that can help you concentrate and keep you going.

Could these healthy snacks boost your focus?

Some are good for a quick boost; others are longer-lasting. Or why not combine a couple to give you a snack that’ll power your brain through the afternoon.

Salmon on seeded wholemeal bread

Salmon is high in the omega-3 oils that help your brain (which is largely made up of fat) function. If you don’t want smoked, remember tinned is a very good alternative as the oils survive the tinning process. It’s a good swap for tuna in children’s lunches too.

The bread will supply complex carbohydrates, which will help keep your blood sugar steady. However, as Benenden Hospital nutritionist Abir Hamza-Goodacre warns, slim slices work better than big doorsteps. “If it’s mainly carbohydrate, without sufficient protein or fat, starch and sugar will be quite high. If there isn’t sufficient protein/fat the blood sugar levels peak and then dip. The main reason people lose concentration in the day is when they’re tired or their blood sugar drops.”

Cherry tomatoes

For a quick pick-me-up, when you’re more peckish than ravenous, try a handful of cherry tomatoes. They’re high in chromium, which is good at maintaining blood sugar. They also contain lycopene, which some studies say help your brain function too.

Boiled egg with a couple of oatcakes

Eggs contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help your cognition – in a nice protein-rich form too. “Add the oatcakes because the body will go for carbs first as an energy source, then fat, then protein. It’s quite stressful if it has to go straight for protein,” Hamza-Goodacre explains. “A good snack combines nutrients, for a smaller version of what you would have in a meal.”

Walnuts and chopped pear

Walnuts also contain a form of omega-3 fat, while pears are a low-glycaemic fruit that’ll release sugar slowly into the body. Add a bit of blue cheese if you want to add more protein. Not only is this a classic combination but it’s protein that helps feed the neurotransmitters in the brain.

Dried figs and almonds

These are both high in iron, which is what keeps our red blood cells high in oxygen (and therefore gives us energy). Iron also plays a role in keeping our brains in good order. Don’t eat too many or you’ll crash on sugar, but this is a great mid-afternoon replacement for biscuits.

Dark berries and a probiotic yogurt

The anthocyanins found in purple fruits can help support the brain’s function. The vitamin C they contain may help too. The yogurt will add in protein and a bit of fat. Particularly if you’re working somewhere quite stressful, they may help your focus and memory too.

If you’re looking for a healthy meal to compliment these snacks, discover our recipes which can give you inspiration for breakfast, lunch and dinner